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Looking for Drones, Zardari Went to CNN

While Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited Washington, his soldiers stood guard at the site of a deadly bombing.
While Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited Washington, his soldiers stood guard at the site of a deadly bombing. (By Mohammad Sajjad -- Associated Press)

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has a problem. His government is near collapse, hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing the Taliban in northwest Pakistan, and militants are within 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad.

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So yesterday, Zardari did what any sensible world leader would do in a time of crisis: He went to see Wolf Blitzer.

"My government is not going to fall," Zardari assured Blitzer as he sat with the cable news host in the Situation Room -- not the one in the White House, but the one in CNN's Washington bureau near Union Station.

Blitzer directed Zardari to watch a presentation of the Taliban's gains on CNN's "magic map" plasma screen.

"Exaggerated," Zardari said. "We've been giving them a fight."

"Do you need American help?" Blitzer offered.

"I need drones," Zardari said.

Luckily, Blitzer had some drone footage. "If you turn around over there, you can see some pictures," Blitzer said. Zardari obliged. Next, Blitzer directed him to look at a video of a CNN "iReport" from a Pakistani college student in Florida. "Turn around and you can see him," Blitzer ordered. Zardari, looking bewildered by Blitzer's arsenal of plasma screens, obeyed.

"Are you going to send your troops in," Blitzer demanded, "and clean out that area from the Taliban and al-Qaeda?"

"Most definitely," Zardari promised.

Blitzer was satisfied. "Mr. President," he said, "good luck."

Winning the coveted support of Blitzer will no doubt take a place of honor in Zardari's scrapbook from his trip to Washington this week. Now, if he can only get similar support during today's meeting with President Obama. The Obama administration has enough on its hands without worrying about whether the Taliban and al-Qaeda will be able to topple the government in nuclear-armed Pakistan. But crises in that region wait for no man -- and now one has come, literally, to Obama's doorstep.


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